Tampa, Fla. – Tampa Bay Buccaneers General Manager Jason Licht has a hunch that is coming.
It was Super Bowl Sunday last February, and he was celebrating his birthday at home with his family when he glanced down at his phone and saw a text message from the quarterback. brave catwho officially retired 12 days earlier.
“You can feel the passion, that’s for sure,” Licht told ESPN on Friday. “I just told [my wife] Blair, ‘He really likes this game. You can tell that he wishes he was playing in this game. I don’t – I don’t think the fire is out. ‘”
Brady wants to talk about the ultimate champion Los Angeles Rams, who had nearly beaten the Bucs in the knockout stages three weeks earlier. That loss ended one of Brady’s greatest statistical seasons ever at the age of 44.
When Licht told reporters two weeks later at the combined NFL, “We’re going to turn on the lights” for the seven-time Super Bowl champion, he knew there was a good chance Brady would return.
Quarterback coach Clyde Christensen felt the same way when faced with Brady watching him do the housework as he transitioned into life after the NFL, but he wasn’t sure if it was just his wishful thinking. himself or not.
Christensen said: “I am of the doubtful type. “I’ve always had the feeling, ‘Hey, this guy’s not playing very well,’ and he played really well last year.”
Brady called it “The Unfinished Business” that brought him back to football in his 23rd season. When he took the pitch with Dallas Cowboys This Sunday (8:15 p.m. ET, NBC) he would become the first quarterback in NFL history to start a game at the age of 45. What’s even more confusing is that it comes right after an MVP-caliber season.
But ahead of the 2022 season, Brady took an unprecedented 11-day break – unprecedented for any player in training camp, let alone the starting midfield – to head towards what has been described as “those days” personal work”.
“I’m 45, man,” Brady said. “There’s a lot — going on.”
An atmosphere of mystery will follow Brady into the season, both in terms of his on-field prospects and the concept of when a future Hall of Famer will hang it up…this time for real. With that in mind, ESPN’s team of NFL reporters and analysts answered the biggest questions surrounding Brady as he began his third season in Tampa. – Jenna Laine
Why doesn’t Brady retire?
“I fell in love with the sport as a kid and I think there’s still a big love for it,” Brady said in June. “I think I’m always going to be unlucky…”
Brady and friend’s longtime personal throwing coach, Dr. Tom House, wrote an entire PhD thesis about the difficulties professional athletes face when letting go. He coined it the “terminal juvenile syndrome”, arguing that because a professional athlete’s identity is forged with his sport at such a young age, blending re-entering mainstream society is often very difficult.
Former Dallas Cowboys full-back Troy Aikman added, “When I got on the pitch, I remember people asking me, ‘Hey, do you remember it? Do you remember playing?’ And, and I would say, ‘I don’t miss the game. I miss the win.’ I miss playing those big games. You know, I miss playing championships. I miss playing Super Bowls, but just to play – it’s not very exciting.”
That’s where Brady can be different.
“He loves the process as much as he loves the game. He just loves the whole process of going with football,” Licht said, adding that every week Brady has a one-on-one meeting with specialized scouts. business to review the personnel of the opponent. , which sometimes brings up notes about players from 15 years ago.
“I think he was on record that he was sick, he just loved to throw the ball,” said Licht. – Laine
Where does this Bucs lineup rank among Brady’s best ever, back in New England?
Last year for ESPN, I did a Tom Brady’s Best Supporting Actors was and debuted with the 2020 Buccaneers ranked second only to the Patriots 16-0 2007. Buccaneers 2021 is equally strong, but this year’s supporting cast will have to rank lower than last year.
Russell Gage is a receiver of talent; To give a DVOA positive reception during last year’s Atlanta attack is an impressive achievement. But Gage is definitely not a Hall of Fame candidate like Antonio Brownwho was still putting on a stellar performance before self-destructing because of the Buccaneers last year.
Step down is really on the offensive line. Shaq Mason is a reasonable replacement for Ali Marpet, but Ryan Jensen, who will miss the entire season with a knee injury, is a longtime All-Pro contender at center. We have to assume that a rookie, even a rookie, such as Luke Goedekethere will be some struggles and not playing as well as solid veterans Alex Cappa did at left-back last season.
I would probably rate this Buccaneers for the seventh supporting cast of Brady’s career, after last year’s Buccaneers as well as the five teams featured in my post from a year ago. – Aaron Schatz, Outsider of Football
Predict what your stat line for Brady will be during the season?
My expectations are 4,535 passes, 34 touchdown passes and 12 interceptions.
Brady is having a season where he’s managed to make 719 passes, the second most in a regular season in NFL history. He also leads the league in throws (749), shots (485), long passes (5,316) and touchdown passes (43). It’s only reasonable to expect fewer passes this season, especially with Bruce Arians as coach.
Brady’s per-try projection (7.1) is also slightly off, which makes sense when you consider him losing Gronkowski and Brown as targets and possibly no receiver Chris Godwin for a game or two.
Even if declines are expected in every passing category, Brady is ahead in attempts, second in yards and third in touchdowns in 2022. At the end of the day, offense in Tampa Bay running through Brady. He is participating in another highly effective statistical campaign. – Mike Clay
What do league executives say about Brady’s 2022 season?
Many around the league wondered if Tom Brady’s arm would be taken after his final season in New England. Two years, 83 touchdowns, and a Super Bowl game later, those same executives wouldn’t make the same mistake.
“You just can’t count him,” said one NFC director. “I think last year in New England it was difficult to defend him and his pick up weapon wasn’t great. Now he has a lot of weapons and is well protected. And he wins. using my brain against the snap so the reduced arm strength doesn’t show up like it does with other people.”
That’s why most leagues expect Brady to have another strong season, which further complicates his prospects in 2023 as a free agent. Some wonder if Brady, no matter how great, will have a harder time committing to the game after this season’s short-term retirement and his 11-day absence from the Bucs camp .
Then there’s the looming commitment to Fox as an NFL analyst. As many executives have pointed out, Brady gets the delay he’s never had under Bill Belichick, and even though he’s earned it, a new team may not want the headache. – Jeremy Fowler
Will 2022 be Brady’s last season?
I can’t see him playing further this season. That’s right, it’s been a strange year for Brady, and there’s still a whole football schedule left. For more than two decades, he has been a study of clarity and dependability, both in his play and in his planning. But along with his unprecedented longevity comes the unprecedented awkwardness – for Brady anyway.
There are signs that he’s clearly unhappy with Tampa under Bruce Arians, even as he adores the personal trainer. He retired, then reeled at it within a week. There was his return, and Arians’ moved into the operating room.
Got a big post-broadcast deal of him. There was tampering that led to the suspension of operations by Dolphins owner Stephen Ross and minority owner Bruce Beal. And finally, he went to training camp, followed by 11 days off.
None of this will affect him as a player in a game he has long since come close to mastering as we’ve seen from a quarterback. But it’s fair to wonder: Where’s his head, as he enters his 23rd season at the age of 45?
Since the end of last season, he seems to be a man who is tired of being pulled in many directions, even when he creates it all. This is understandable and understandable to any oriented person in his 40s, but still indicates that his life is unsustainable.
Over the years, Brady has talked about the growing gap in his life, between the demands of how he approaches and plays the game and how he serves as a parent, husband, child boys, friends and business people, to the extent that this gap has become apparent. him as much as anything else.
It expands every year, and after this season, the game will be the last to come out. – Seth Wickersham